The Friday Face-Off: Peace is Poor Reading

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.

The Powder Mage Trilogy  


Bloodsounder’s Arc

Welcome to the Friday Face-Off where this week we’re comparing covers which feature war. Having far too many books to choose from, for this particular battle I’ve decided to do something a little different and pit trilogy against trilogy!… it just so happens it’s also the perfect plot to post as many gorgeous covers as possible!

The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan, which is published by Orbit, and Bloodsounder’s Arc by Jeff Salyards, which is published by Night Shade Books, both feature three amazing covers from a multitude of artists with blood, battles and atmosphere by the cannon-full. So take a look and see which trilogy comes out on top this week!

The Powder Mage Trilogy – Orbit

Promise of Blood

Artwork by Gene Mollica and Michael Frost

Powder Mage 2

The Crimson Campaign

Artwork by Gene Mollica and Michael Frost

Powder Mage 3

The Autumn Republic

Artwork by Gene Mollica and Michael Frost

Bloodsounder’s Arc – Night Shade Books

Scourge of the Betrayer

Artwork by J.K. Woodward

Bloodsounder's Arc 2

Veil of the Deserters

Artwork by Michael C. Hayes

Bloodsounder's Arc 3

Chains of the Heretic

Artwork by Michael C. Hayes

| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

The Bloodsounder’s Arc trilogy features some gorgeous artwork by some very talented artists. With two out of three covers featuring battles, and all three covers featuring weaponry, this trilogy well and truly fits the bill for this week’s Face-Off. With artwork by Michael C. Hayes, the cover for Veil of the Deserters is particularly striking and a definite favourite. The illustrative style is incredibly detailed and the eye-catching pink works surprisingly well to set off the battle scene. All three covers also have a fantastic cohesive typeface which is instantly recognisable across the board. Jeff Salyards most definitely has three covers he can be proud of – and which I’m determined to get my hands on immediately!

Despite the wonderful covers from Night Shade Books, it’s The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan which soars to the top this week. With three photographic illustrations, along with an eye-catching typeface, this trilogy of covers tie together beautifully well. Dark, gritty and distinctive; the smoke and light which surrounds the central figure creates an incredibly evocative atmosphere that plays across each scene – whether on the throne or on the battlefield. Though I love the differences which mark each cover in Salyard’s trilogy, the cohesive style of The Powder Mage Trilogy really captures my imagination and just tips the scales in McClellan’s favour.

Which trilogy of covers wins your vote this week? Do you have a particular favourite?

The Powder Mage Trilogy 

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

Bloodsounder’s Arc

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

Post LinksNext Friday’s theme is: Metropolis

A cover which features a city

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off Feature Page for upcoming themes

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The Monthly Round-Up: February 2016

Welcome to The Monthly Round-Up. Join me as I look back on the past month to see which books I’ve read, the reviews I’ve posted, the goals I’ve completed and my all important Book of the Month!

| Books Read |

February 8

February has flown by in a torrent of amazingly bloody, beautiful and brilliant books. I only managed a respectable eight but every single one of them was fantastic – I expect that there won’t be less than a four star review amongst them! I may have completely ignored my goals of the month but never mind! February was a blast. It also featured a book so good it required its own rating!

Here’s the run down of the books I devoured last month:

| 1. |

The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky

| 2. |

The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

| 3. |

Broken Banners by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

| 4. |

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

| 5. |

The Grim Company by Luke Scull

| 6. |

Legend by David Gemmell

| 7. |

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

| 8. |

Dragon Hunters by Marc Turner

Book of the Month

Promise of Blood

by Brian McClellan

| February Goals |

To finish NOS4R2 and Emma before the month is out!

Status: Incomplete (I haven’t even picked one of them up!)


And to really challenge myself to be organised…

To post every day in February

Status: Incomplete (22 of 29 days Complete)

| Goals for 2016 |

Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge: 18/100 Books Read (18%)

Status: +8% in February

| Reviews Posted |



Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

5 Stars

The Thief by Claire North

Faith and Moonlight by Mark Gelineau and Joe King

The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

three point five

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Rising Tide by Rajan Khanna

| Other Posts From February |

The Monthly Round-Up: January 2016

The Month Ahead: February 2016

Cover Reveal: Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Cover Reveal: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho – Paperback Edition

Cover Reveal: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan

Bookish Beats: Bonobo – Black Sands

Bookish Beats: Massive Attack – Mezzanine

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Historical Settings

Teaser Tuesdays: February 02 – The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

Teaser Tuesdays: February 09 – Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

Teaser Tuesdays: February 16 – The Grim Company by Luke Scull

Teaser Tuesdays: February 23 – A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel

The Friday Face-Off: February 05 – The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

The Friday Face-Off: February 12 – The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

The Friday Face-Off: February 19 – Vicious by V.E. Schwab

The Friday Face-Off: February 26 – The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Book Haul: February 06 – The Frey and McGray Series by Oscar de Muriel

Book Haul: February 08 – Drake, Servant of the Underworld and The Crimson Ribbon

Book Haul: February 10 – Low Town Series and City of Bohane

Book Haul: February 13 – The Rats, The Folding Knife and The Electric Church

Book Haul: February 23 – The Raven’s Head, And Then There Were None and Ink and Bone

Book Haul: February 24 – Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Review: Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

Promise of Blood

Book One of the Powder Mage Trilogy

by Brian McClellan

Fantasy | 561 Pages | Published by Hatchette in 2013

| Rating |

Every once in a while a book – and its accompanying author – crosses your path and completely turns your world upside down. Addictive, absorbing and ridiculously thrilling, these are the books which grip you from their opening pages and refuse to let you go even after they’ve come to an end. My addiction is Promise of Blood – a book so good that it’s acquired its own rating.

Promise of Blood is a tour de force; an unyielding whirlwind of explosive action; an unflinching portrayal of a world, in some ways not unlike our own, where magic, chaos and blood threaten to choke the populace as it vies for freedom, equality and glorious revolution. The first novel in the Powder Mage Trilogy is, without a doubt, the best book I’ve read in a long time. Masterfully written. Persistently exhilarating. Bloody brilliant.

The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

It’s a bloody business overthrowing a king… Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved… Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should…

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets? PROMISE OF BLOOD is the start of a new epic fantasy series from Brian McClellan.

Promise of Blood opens with a society on the brink of revolution; taxes are high, living standards are low, and the whole of Adro is about to be sold out to the Kez by their incompetent King and his royal cabal. With the palace in the throes of a military coup, the Kez threatening the borders, and the populace in the death grip of starvation and poverty, establishing a new government following the rebellion will be no small task.

But the rebellion controls the power of the powder mages, an elite force of soldiers who can use and magically manipulate gunpowder to their own ends, and one of their most renowned number is leading the revolution. Field Marshal Tamas, a skilled tactician and military leader, will stop at nothing to forge a new society out of the dregs of Adro and will wage bloody war on the streets of Adopest to do so.

As assassins, spies and traitors vie to stop the revolution in its tracks, and powder mages and Privileged, a group of powerful sorcerers loyal to the King, execute one another with deadly efficiency, the list of revolutionary allies begins to wear thin. The narrative follows Tamas, his son Taniel and Adamat, a retired police inspector, in converging storylines as they struggle to outmanoeuvre their enemies both on the battlefield and within their own camp. No easy feat when the gods become involved.

Brian McClellan has created a world caught in the throes of chaos and regime change, a world where bloody battles are fought on the streets, and one which resonates with a chord from our own history. Tense, exciting and exhilarating, Adro is effortlessly fleshed out as the action unfolds. With a diverse landscape and a multitude of warring nations at her borders, Promise of Blood creates a narrative which never isolates itself, which resounds with undeniable realism – even with its fantastic elements – and which promises a clash of destructive and supremely powerful forces in the books to come.

This is a world made up of those without power, and the incredible force of those with it: the powder mages; the Privileged; and those with a knack, a single ‘talent’ or power. With the introduction of the Wardens of Kez in the latter part of the novel,  and hints of power of entirely different kind, Promise of Blood introduces a unique and captivating magic system which drives the narrative and lends more than dose of explosive action to the storyline.

But McClellan’s creative genius doesn’t stop short of incredible worldbuilding and imaginative magic systems. His cast of characters are wonderfully conflicted and imperfect creations which retain a distinctive and real quality throughout the novel. This is a society hacked into bloody existence by grizzled war leaders, sly manipulators, devious negotiators and charming dead-shots; a society where an overwhelming cast of supporting characters slot seamlessly into the plot, shaping the narrative and upping its intrigue factor tenfold.

The protagonists of this novel surprise, amaze and intrigue in equal measure and drive the story forwards at a relentless pace. Tamas is a tactical genius with a singular determination, a man who above all else believes in the right of his actions despite the often grim consequences. He is an honest man, but a deadly one, an uncompromising general carved from his own experiences who is sure to remain at the top of my list of favourite characters for years to come.

His estranged son Taniel is similarly engaging. A charismatic marksman known throughout the land as Taniel Two-Shot, a nicknamed earned for his ability to take two enemies down with one bullet, his charming and often humorous personality remains captivating throughout the narrative despite living under his father’s considerable shadow. With Adamat, the investigator working for Tamas; Ka-Poel, a mysterious and strangely powerful savage; and a whole array of mercenaries, mages and potential traitors, it is the characters and their machinations which give drive to the vast majority of this novel.

McClellan has an effortlessly engaging writing style, putting as much depth into his characters as he does his world. The narrative is a none stop thrill ride from start to finish, and McClellan doesn’t flinch from inflicting pain on his characters. Promise of Blood is an intense, exciting and relentless conflict of blood, power and politics; a novel where death is dealt out with abandon and where even the good and honest struggle to keep their hands clean. A stark portrayal of a regime in its death throes and the subsequent struggle to establish cohesive rule, Promise of Blood is nothing short of genius.Promise of Blood is bloody and brutal novel with an imaginative premise and a wonderful magic system. Brian McClellan strides to the top of my favourite new authors list with this flintlock fantasy which rides a line between the epic and the grimdark in an explosion of guns, gunpowder and grit. For those of you who haven’t yet come across Brian McClellan, there are just three words: Read – This – Book. 

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The Friday Face-Off: February 12

Friday Face Off 2cWelcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new feature here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.

| The Friday Face-Off: The Thousand Names by Django Wexler |

In this week’s Friday Face-Off we’re taking a look at the cover for the first novel in Django Wexler’s The Shadow Campaigns series, The Thousand Names. Despite having been on my to read list for quite some time, Wexler still hasn’t made it onto my bookshelf – a travesty which must be corrected at the earliest opportunity – so what better way to remind myself of what I’m missing out on than to ogle some wonderful book covers.

Awesome reviews and wonderful premise aside, just look at these babies! Swords?! Guns?! Vivid colours and incredible atmosphere?! What more could you ask for? With Del Rey and Steve Stone  fighting in the UK’s corner and Roc with Paul Youll for the US, take a look and see which cover comes out on top!

Del Rey – UK Cover

Artwork by Steve Stone

Roc – US Cover

Artwork by Paul Youll

| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

This week was a tough one… so I’m calling it a draw! The more I look at the Del Rey cover by Steve Stone the more I love it. The composition is wonderful; the figure in the foreground has incredible dynamism; the background is chaotic and atmospheric; the colours are earthy but catch the eye; and it hits you with the impact of a movie poster. Overall an awesome effect.

The Roc cover on the other hand is more refined and elegant and it’s just as eye-catching as the Del Rey cover with its vivid use of colour and its own highly dynamic, yet entirely different, figure. I love the golds and the blue greens in this cover, and the overall composition is highly effective – in short: it looks like the kind of book I would instantly pick up.

But I still can’t choose a favourite. When it comes to dynamic action figures however, Steve Stone wins hands down. Love it.

Have you read The Thousand Names? Which is your favourite cover? 

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